Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Denise Hien

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Child Behavior Problems; Child Internalizing Behavior Problems; Emotion Regulation; Maternal Depression


The present study examined the relationships between maternal depression, parenting practices and children's emotional and behavioral expressions. The study was a secondary analysis of a previous cross-sectional and cross-generational study (Maternal aggression, self-regulation and adverse child outcomes, DA 08963) funded by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) that examined the pathways between maternal impairments (crack/cocaine use disorder, general psychopathology, and self-regulation deficits), child-rearing deficits (parenting deficits, child neglect, child physical/ sexual abuse), and adverse child outcomes (substance abuse, aggressive/ delinquent behaviors, and child self-regulation deficits).

The population for the current study was chosen because children of depressed mothers in certain vulnerable developmental stages, such as the adolescent period, are at a heightened risk for adverse outcomes. Indeed, past research suggests that children of depressed mothers have particular difficulties with emotion regulation capacities and internalizing and externalizing behaviors. It has also been found that maternal depression is linked with negative parenting deficits, such as harsher forms of discipline. The current study proposed that mothers with a current diagnosis of Major Depression Disorder will exhibit harsher parenting practices and that maternal depression will be positively associated with child emotion dysregulation as well as with child internalizing and externalizing behavior problems in pre-adolescent and adolescent children.

Overall, the depressed mothers in the sample rated their children with higher scores of internalizing behavior problems compared to the non-depressed mothers. Child emotion dysregulation was also found to be significantly associated with child behavior problems. Additionally, maternal punitive punishment and harsh parenting practices were found to be positively significantly associated with child behavior problems, including internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Finally, child emotion regulation capacities were found to mediate the relationship between parental psychological aggression and the occurrence of child internalizing and externalizing behavior problems.

A discussion of these findings will address public health implications for mental healthcare and clinical interventions for mothers who have experienced depression and children who have been exposed to its effects.